Well, there's a lot of room for improvement, of course. I think the main reason we won by 20 points instead of 2 (or at all) is the fact that we were playing against far inferior athletes, but sometimes you just gotta take that win for the sake of the warm, fuzzy feeling you get when you do it and less for the sense of actual improvement. Its much the same feeling Steve Spurrier gets when he benches his starting QB in the 3rd quarter, and just as applicable here. Not to say there wasn't a lot of good (1st half), but play like that against most any other team and we won't be so much winning as we will be jumping off of tall objects. Let's run through the game and see what was good, what was bad, and what the team had to say about it. All with numbers to back things up, of course.
You can break any football game down into two phases, as far as the play on the field is concerned: the mental phase and the physical phase. We'll look at the physical phase tomorrow (lots to LoL about in the good way there), but today let's focus on the mental phase, where a lot of the breaks occurred. During the 2nd half, a lot of coverage breaks occurred, especially up the middle of the field. BC had two touchdowns, and both of them were direct results of these coverage breakdowns. When I asked Quayshawn Nealy about this, he said that the ILBs practiced something called "re-route" in the past two weeks which they did not execute properly and allowed those guys to get open. Mostly this involves getting in the WR's lanes and trying to make them break their routes, but the problem was once they broke those routes they ended up wide open. Consider this: in the 1st half, BC had 7 first downs and 120 passing yards. By the end of the game, those numbers had gone up to 15 and 264. That may be linear growth, but a lot more of those yards came on big passing plays, largely up the middle, than before (53 yds in the 1st as opposed to 104 in the 2nd). These mental breaks were also a result of the defense losing focus due to the lead, which is a chronic problem of ours that I fuck hate. We must keep a large amount of Uncle Buzz's Patented Old Time Mental-Lapse Cream (TM!) in the locker room for use between halves.
But there was a lot of mental good today, too. The offense was chugging along at full cylinder for most of the game, with the only blatant mental lapse being Tevin's fumbled snap in the 2nd quarter. Also, the defensive simplifications were quite apparent and welcome among the players. I asked Isaiah Johnson what the biggest difference practicing under Coach Groh and Coach Kelly was, and he said something to the effect of its slower and faster paced. That is, Coach Groh spat out a lot of information all at once that they had to swallow at a quick rate, so it was faster under him in that regard. Its faster under Kelly in the physical sense, because he's not having them constantly adjust based on where one receiver is going or not going, he's just letting them play. This, to me, makes it the most clear why Groh wasn't working, he was asking them to memorize and think too much based off small tweaks the offense was making. Quayshawn agreed: now they get to react to simple keys like alignments in at the line of scrimmage or what routes a guy was running, its just easy. I heard the players talk about how they got to "just play" under this new defensive command, and they seemed very happy with it. Let's just hope it translates into better play against better teams.
I'll cover the physical phase tomorrow, until then, WHAT'D Y'ALL THINK OF OUR PERFORMANCE TONIGHT?